The Champions – Full Circle

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An alleged British agent, Paul Westerman (Patrick Allen), has been remanded in prison after breaking into the Colombian embassy in London and photographing a series of secret plans (although the film can’t be found). Craig goes into undercover mode, posing as a fellow inmate, and together the pair escape ….

Sharron is the star of today’s post credits superpowers demonstration. Driving alone down a country lane (although when she stops for a moment, a crewmember’s reflection can be seen) she picks up a couple of male hitchhikers. When they spy her long, shapely legs they clearly think they’ve hit the jackpot, but our Sharron has other ideas.

Nemesis are cast in the role of peacemakers, attempting to heal the rift between Britain and Colombia. That’s nice of them.

Craig, oozing an aura of super cool, quickly befriends Westerman. Stuart Damon seems to relish the chance to play a slightly different role for once, especially when he’s acting alongside Patrick Allen (the man with the unmistakable voice). Allen’s performance is a highlight of the episode. Like many of the characters seen in The Champions, Allen’s only been given a lightly sketched role – but he manages to give each line an air of gravitas.

Another nice turn comes from the always dependable John Nettleton as Booker, the man hired by the Colombians to break Westerman out of jail. I adore his dry delivery of the line “you should take more exercise, it’s good for me” to the very shapely Sarah (Gabrielle Drake).

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It probably won’t escape your notice that during Sarah’s first scene the camera seems fixated on her bottom and legs (she’s enjoying a rigerous workout on an exercise bike at the time). Drake’s presence is some consolation for the fact that Alexandra Bastedo sits most of the episode out.

Sharron’s contribution to the story is negligible. Tremayne sends her to London to liaise with Craig and Richard and after a quick chat with Richard he sends her back to Geneva!

William Gaunt’s Irish accent (he briefly masquerades as an Irish prison padre) is a wonder to behold.

Plotwise, the episode is a bit muddy. If Westerman is such a top agent, it’s slightly hard to believe that he instantly trusts Craig. Surely he would have considered the possibility of a plant being put into his cell?

A good chunk of the episode takes place inside the prison, but there’s the sense that the story can’t really begin until Craig and Westerman escape. But one upside of this is the fact that the story picks up considerable momentum towards the end. This is where Booker takes centre stage as he tortures Craig (who has been misidentified as Westerman) in order to discover the location of the film.

Booker doesn’t seem at all surprised to learn that an American is working for British intelligence. This is another plot weakness (how fortunate that Westerman’s id, which he slips into Craig’s pocket, didn’t have a photograph).  And since Booker earlier asked Sarah to research Westerman’s arrest in the newspapers, we have to assume there were no photos there either.

But the eventual reveal of why Westerman broke into the embassy does feel satisfying and provides a decent conclusion to the episode.

Good performances from Allen and Nettleton (plus Gabrielle Drake managing to make a considerable impression with very limited screentime) all helps to earn this episode a mark of four out of five.

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